Statement on Events of August 19, 2023 provided by PMSS -
On the weekend of August 18th, the Waymakers Collective, an Appalachian Arts and Culture Assembly, rented the facilities and grounds of Pine Mountain Settlement School for their annual retreat.
While this group was engaged in their meeting, several images were posted on the Waymakers’ social media, depicting their classes and events.
The images, particularly those showing a healing space set up in the chapel, upset some members of the local community, who interpreted this as non-Christian. They reached out to the School’s Interim Director and, later, the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
To address these concerns and avoid misunderstanding, the Interim Director and Chair of the Board asked the Waymakers Collective to relocate their healing space to another building. The Collective agreed they would relocate the space at their next class break. However, some community members decided on their own to come to campus, entering the chapel, and blocking access to buildings and roads. The Waymakers Collective felt threatened and called law enforcement.
The Interim Director was out of town but in communication with all parties throughout the afternoon. The School’s program lead came to campus to help defuse the situation. She arrived before law enforcement and isolated each group, listened to each group’s concerns, and communicated those to the Interim Director. It was decided that the chapel would remain vacant and be locked to avoid further conflict. Most community members had left by the time the authorities arrived. Afterwards, the Waymakers Collective ended their retreat early and left campus.
This incident happened at a private function on the Pine Mountain Settlement School campus. The Waymakers Collective was responsible for the planning and content of their retreat. The School prepared meals and offered lodging and meeting space.
Pine Mountain was founded upon principles of the social settlement movement, which stressed building bridges between people of diverse backgrounds and circumstances, promoting mutual respect and understanding, and coming together to promote the common good. The School, across its hundred and ten years, has operated in keeping with this tradition. In 2016, the Board of Trustees adopted the following set of core values reflective of Pine Mountain’s settlement heritage, developed collaboratively by staff, trustees and community members.
CORE VALUES Education
We provide immersive and practical educational experiences for all ages because education changes lives.
Fellowship We strive to build bridges between people of diverse backgrounds promoting an exchange of culture, ideas and history to generate mutual respect and learning.
Community We collaborate with our communities on common goals fostering self-respect and neighborliness and building leadership capacity.
Stewardship We steward our natural and built environment, providing inspiration and tools for others to join with us to protect life on earth.
Spirituality We draw on our historically inclusive Christian spirit to create a place where bodies, hearts and minds can grow.
Pine Mountain Settlement School will always be an inclusive space for those who strive to explore, learn, or break bread together. We have not—and will never—share the values of those who oppress, endanger, or silence others, and we will continue to welcome everyone to our historic campus in a manner consistent with our mission and tradition. The School is reviewing its policies and procedures to ensure that this type of misunderstanding does not occur in the future and to ensure the safety of all guests, visitors, and staff. Pine Mountain will continue its tradition of being open and welcoming to all as well as to promote mutual understanding among all those it serves.